Natasha works to bring quality, insightful and trusted information on bipolar disorder and related illnesses to the public while engaging with the mental health community. Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and social media consultant from the Pacific Northwest.
There is this concept that some mental illness diagnoses are better or worse than others. Once you start looking for this concept, you'll see evidence of it all over the place, such as in: "At least I don't have schizophrenia," or, "Don't date borderlines, they're really messed up." But why do people think some mental illness diagnoses are better or worse than others?
Today I'm going to write about the conservatorship of Britney Spears and how it relates to mental health. Last week I wrote about the #FreeBritney movement and how people are declaring the Britney Spears is being held at a mental health facility against her will. I made the point that this is due to mental illness prejudice as no one would think she was being held against her will in another type of medical facility. (For the record, Spears is no longer in a mental health facility.)
There's a rather large #FreeBritney frenzy going on right now. This group of people posits Britney Spears is currently being held against her will in a mental health facility (which has been called a "wellness center"). As someone who works in the area of mental illness, I can tell you this is just another form of mental illness prejudice and stigma. If Spears were in a standard hospital, no one would question her need to be there, but because this is a mental health facility, people are assuming she's there against her will and rumors are swirling. #FreeBritney is ridiculous and even the star herself has come out and said so.
I have experienced so many bipolar medication side effects that I can’t remember them all. They have ranged from the common that many people experience like weight gain and dry mouth to the more unusual such as falling out hair and me falling over. When I started taking bipolar medication and started experiencing side effects, I tended to just grit my teeth, bear it and suffer. And I see this all the time in people. People constantly contact me and ask what to do about bipolar medication side effects because they are currently suffering.
I don’t believe in needless suffering. I believe there are things you can do about many, if not most, of the bipolar medication side effects.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about 18 years ago and I can honestly say, that being diagnosed with bipolar disorder feels like a death. It may not feel like it immediately, but, over time, mourning a death is what being diagnosed with bipolar disorder feels like.
People ask me about the research on bipolar disorder and pregnancy quite a bit. Now, I am not a doctor and nor do I claim to be one; moreover, this is a subject that I haven’t studied exhaustively so I tell these women to talk to their doctors. Unfortunately, that’s the best advice I have been able to give about bipolar disorder and pregnancy.
That said, I read a new paper on bipolar disorder in pregnancy and I thought I would take the time to summarize some of its recommendations regarding pregnancy and bipolar disorder. I’ll add my two cents here and there (clearly noted as just my opinion), but for the most part, this advice comes from the references following the article and not from me. If any of the below concerns or interests you, please check the references and discuss it with your doctor.
It’s difficult to find real patient experiences with, and perspectives on, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) online. Well, it’s easy to find patient experiences and people’s perspectives on ECT but what tends to happen is that those that scream about ECT the loudest are the only ones people hear. I suspect this is thanks to the extreme animosity held on at least one side of the debate.
I aim to change this with real data from real people who have experienced ECT. What I want is data that will prove or disprove the assumptions that people make about ECT. I really hope you'll support me in this effort.
I used to be a person who was very mad about psychiatry and psychiatric medication (psych meds). I had that vehement anger we often hear from antipsychiatrists although I was not antipsychatiry, per se. My biggest fantasy, at the time, was to take the horrible medications I was prescribed and shove them down the throat of the prescribing doctor. If only they had to take the medications, they would be more empathetic, more compassionate, more human. But I learned that being mad about psychiatric medication and psychiatry is a losing game and it really got me nowhere.
I have battled with what I now know is depression for the better part of a decade – since my teenage years. At the time, I didn’t see it as depression, it was simply a part of who I was. What my parents once considered to be nothing more than bouts of teenage angst, was something much more sinister. A while back I learned (in therapy) that most of my energy went into keeping me “above the surface.” Fighting like this really is a draining experience. It drained me emotionally, as well as physically.
I can't tell you how horrible it is to be consumed by guilt because of depression and having that lead to suicidal ideation. Well, being consumed by guilt for any reason at all is horrible, but when it's driven by depression -- a demon in your brain -- it's incessant and resistant to logic. Yesterday I was overwhelmed by guilt because of depression and it actually made me suicidal.